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Education 5 Essay

3914 words - 16 pages

“If the word has the potency to revive and make us free, it has also the power to blind, imprison and destroy.” Ralph Ellison’ quote has made a connection to the three author’s situations. Learning can give us valuable knowledge and benefit. But it also can take away our freedom. The quote above relates to the three readings; as getting education, a person can receive two different impacts: liberation and imprisonment.
“Discovering books” by Richard Wright explains how reading books has changed his outlook on life and eventually his own life. Living during the period of segregation, Wright has to sit down under the hatred from Southerners who label black people as property. Reading ...view middle of the document...

“I came finally to the editorial page and saw an article dealing with H.L.Mencken. I knew by hearsay that he was the editor of the American Mercury, but aside from that I knew nothing about him. The article was a furious denunciation of Mencken, concluding with one, hot short sentence: Mencken is a fool.” Because he is a black, reading is like a “taboo”. All the information he gets is from eavesdropping from other people because he never reads. One day, he notices an article about Mencken and knows that Southerners are against him but knows nothing more than that. His curiosity starts to question him about Mencken. “I felt a vague sympathy for him. Had not the South, which had assigned me the role of a nonman, cast at him its hardest words?” Even though Wright does not know much about Mencken, he feels that a strong bond is connecting him and Mencken; putting them in the same situation; Southerners hate both of them even though Mencken is a white and Wright is a Negro. They are not considered human and all reviled in an aggressive and disrespectful ways. The lack of education has imprisoned him because he knows nothing about the surrounding an always has to rely on public’s information.
Wright’s story takes place during segregation. At that time, “Negroes were not allowed to patronize its shelves any more than they were parks and playgrounds.” After reading the article, Wright’s curiosity and sympathy from Mencken have motivated him to discover more about his “fellow outcast”. And the only way for him to do that is getting books from library, which is considered a dangerous thing to do for black people. At that time, black people are not allowed to read books or step in the library with academic purpose. Southerners do not want black people to get education and gain thought; for them, black people need to be in control.
“I had so far been successful in hiding my thoughts and feelings from them, but I knew I would create hostility if I went about this business of reading in a clumsy way.” Being aware of the trouble that he can bring up by going to the library, Wright needs to consider the consequence and be careful with what he does; he can not make mistakes and cause concern to the white men at work. He will get bad attention and punishment from white people if they find out about his reading plan. After observing cautiously those men whom he works with, he decides to ask for favor from the Catholic fellow who “did not fit into an anti-Negro category.” Since the Southerners also hate him, Wright thinks that this fellow is the only person who can help him get books. Being desperate to read has given him the gumption to come up to the Catholic fellow and ask for help. “But you ought to read the right thing” is what the work man warns Wright when he asks to borrow the library card. It is not good for Wright to find anything about Mencken who is hated by Southerners.
After thinking of several strategies in order to get books,...

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